Nuclear Security:

Status of the National Nuclear Security Administration's Effort to Develop a Security Infrastructure Plan

GAO-16-447R: Published: May 13, 2016. Publicly Released: May 13, 2016.

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trimbled@gao.gov

 

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What GAO Found

The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA)--a semiautonomous agency within the Department of Energy (DOE)--has not completed a Security Infrastructure Plan as required by law but has plans to do so. Although NNSA has not yet completed this plan, it has recently begun to include some information on potential physical security infrastructure improvements in its current budget and planning documents. Congress created the NNSA in 2000 to, among other things, maintain and enhance the safety, reliability, and performance of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile. The nuclear security enterprise (enterprise) consists of eight sites--including three national laboratories, four production plants, and the Nevada National Security Site--at which NNSA has responsibility for the security of classified information, nuclear weapons, and special nuclear material, including plutonium and highly enriched uranium. Following enactment of the requirement for NNSA to complete a Security Infrastructure Plan in 2008, NNSA officials told GAO that they initiated planning efforts between 2009 and 2015 to assess physical security infrastructure needs. However, these efforts either did not fully address the statutory requirement for a Security Infrastructure Plan or have yet to be completed. NNSA will, according to agency officials, complete this plan, including an overall cost and schedule estimate for the effort, by December 2016. It will then incorporate cost and schedule estimates for repairing, upgrading, and replacing physical security infrastructure into the annual NNSA budget request and other long-range planning documents.

In the meantime, NNSA has recently begun to include some information on potential physical security infrastructure improvements in its current budget and planning documents. For example, the NNSA fiscal year 2017 budget request for Defense Nuclear Security states that NNSA projects that it may need more than $2 billion dollars over the next 15 years to address repairs and replacement of essential security infrastructure at enterprise sites. According to NNSA officials, in fiscal year 2018 NNSA will begin to add more detailed and accurate estimates to the annual NNSA budget request and other long-range planning documents. Furthermore, according to agency officials, the fiscal year 2019 budget request and long-range planning documents will include the full details and costs of NNSA's Security Infrastructure Plan.

Why GAO Did This Study

The Senate Armed Services Committee report accompanying a bill for the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2015 included a provision for GAO to report on NNSA's effort to develop a Security Infrastructure Plan. This report examines (1) the status of NNSA's efforts to develop a statutorily required Security Infrastructure Plan and (2) the extent to which NNSA's future physical security infrastructure needs are included in the agency's current budget and planning documents. To examine the status of NNSA's efforts to develop a Security Infrastructure Plan and the extent to which it has included needed physical security infrastructure in its current budget and planning documents, GAO reviewed NNSA security planning and budget documents and interviewed NNSA and enterprise contractors.

What GAO Recommends

GAO is not making any new recommendations. However, GAO has previously recommended that NNSA include a range of budget estimates for projects and programs in its modernization plans when more precise estimates are not yet available.

For more information, contact David C. Trimble at (202) 512-3841 or trimbled@gao.gov.

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